How to search historical newspapers online with Quebec Archives’ new search engine: Part 1

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) recently launched a new search engine for researching digitized historical newspapers and magazines on its website. Researchers now have access to a more dynamic search engine and new features that make it easy to bookmark search results for later review, share findings on social media, and save favourites.

As an added bonus, all of the historical newspapers, including the Quebec Official Gazette, and magazines are under the same search umbrella.

While initially the increased number of features brings a bit of a learning curve that may cause some to gnash their teeth and pull their hair, the discoveries uncovered are well worth understanding how to use the search criteria.

While all the search terms are in French, there are only a few words to learn and most are somewhat similar to English.

Step-by-step search
1. To begin searching the digitized historical newspapers and magazines, go to BAnQ Numérique (BAnQ Digitized). Click on Découvrir (Discover) under Patrimoine québécois (Quebec heritage). This is where you will find a large collection of digitized records, including Lovell’s Montreal Directory, 1842-1977.

2. In Nos collections (Our collections), select Revues et journaux québécois numérisé par BAnQ (Quebec magazines and newspapers digitized by BAnQ). Revues = Magazines. Journaux = Newspapers. If the image for magazines and newspapers does not appear, click on the arrow at the end of the row to reveal more choices.

When you pass your cursor over Revues et journaux, a box appears, Accéder (Access), immediately appears. Click on it.

3. Now that you have arrived in the section for digitized newspapers and magazines, you can bookmark this section, or follow the above steps in the next time.

Let the research begin!

4. Enter your keyword(s) in the Search box left of the magnifying glass at the top. The results immediately appear. No need to hit enter or click on the magnifying glass. The keywords are highlighted in yellow.

5. To search for the keywords in the order they appear, i.e., an exact phrase such as a first and last name, make an Exact Search by checking off the box next to Recherche exacte, and clicking Appliquer (Apply).

Search filters
Before clicking on Accéder to Access each newspaper or magazine, narrow down the results, using the filters that are listed in the right margin.

The filters are optional. Select as many as necessary for your research.

Click on the plus sign to open each relevant filter.

Listed here are some of the key filters.

1. Trier par Pertinence (Sort by relevance) allows you to sort by Titre A-Z (Title A-Z) and Z-A, Date moins récente (Least recent date), Date plus récente (Most recent date), Date d’ajout (Date added), and Créateur (Publisher).

2. In Conditions d’accès (Access conditions), select À consulter à distance to consult from a distance, instead of the second choice for sur place (on site).

3. Type de document indicates the Type of document, i.e., Revues et journaux (Magazines and newspapers) and Texte (Textual).

4. If you want to do a Texte intégral (Full text search), i.e., search an entire newspaper or magazine, select oui for yes. A number within brackets beside non indicates the number of issues that are not full-text searchable. When a newspaper is not full-text searchable, you must browse page by page. The search engine cannot direct you straight to the keyword(s). These newspapers, digitized quite a while ago, will eventually be full-text searchable.

5. Select the Genre (Type): Journaux (Newspapers), Revues (Magazines), Livres (Books), Archives textuelles (Textual archives).

6. Titre (Title) allows you to select the publications that interest you, or you can type the title of a publication (Titre du journal ou de la revue) in the box.

7. Sujet (Subject) allows you to narrow down by Journaux québécois (Quebec newspaper), Journaux québécois anglais (English Quebec newspaper), Jeunesse (Youth), Travailleurs (Workers), and Humour québécois (Quebec humour).

8. To narrow down where the newspapers or magazines were published, select Lieu de publication (Publication location). Remember that an event that took place in Montreal may have been picked up by a newspaper in another city, so be careful when narrowing down the location.

9. Date range. Enter years to select a period of time, and then click on Appliquer (Apply). You can also select specific years by clicking on the boxes.

10. Language. This filter allows you to select the Langue (Language) of a publication, such as français (French), anglais (English), Eskimo, and italien.

11. At the very top of the selection of filters is the Permalien (Permalink). This is a very long URL that you can copy and paste to save your search results.

1. To see all your results, click on Afficher plus de résultats (Display more results) at the bottom of the page. Continue doing so to look at all the results.

2. Click on the Accéder (Access) box in the bottom right of each result to see the actual document.

Help available
If you need assistance searching through newspapers or other digitized records, fill in the online form or call them at 514 873-1100 or toll free at 1-800-363-9023. Select option 3 to speak to an archivist. The BAnQ archivists will be pleased to help you in English or French.

Part 2
The blog post, How to search historical newspapers with Quebec Archives’ new search engine: Part 2, explains how to search within a newspaper or magazine after you click on the Accéder (Access) box and how to share.

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